8. Jack Brooks Monster Slayer (2007)
Topping the list of monster movies that ought to be better known is this low-budget Canadian effort that features Robert Englund as a Professor who transforms into a creature after being possessed by an ancient evil.
Fortunately, one of his students is Jack Brooks (Trevor Matthews), an erstwhile plumber who has been in Anger Management since a one-eyed beast murdered his family years earlier. When Englund starts eating his own pupils, Jack’s just the right person to swing into action and save the day.
Eccentric, inventive and very funny, Jon Knautz’s film feels like a set-up for a franchise (Jack doesn’t become the Monster Slayer until the third act), and it’s too bad that those films never materialized because the movie provides a more solid foundation for a series than either Insidious or Paranormal Activity. There’s imagination at work here, and at no point does anyone watch a video of a door opening by itself.
7. Zombeavers (2014)
If you only watch one horror comedy about zombie beavers in your lifetime make it Zombeavers, which has a real shot at being the most entertaining creature feature of the last five years.
Zombeavers is at heart a Roger Corman creature feature, only it’s better written, better acted and all the laughs are intentional. When a barrel of toxic waste washes up near the cabin where 3 college girls are on vacation, it turns the local beaver population into oversized monsters with a taste for human flesh, which the girls realize as soon as they decide to go topless at the lake.
All a fan of this kind of thing wants to know is if the effects are better than your average SyFy movie, to which the answer is an emphatic yes. It’s also better paced and has more likeable characters, though it’ll still be remembered as the first movie where the beaver eats the guy.
6. Saturday Morning Mystery (2012)
What if there really was a group that drove around in a van solving mysteries, just like Mystery Incorporated in Scooby Doo? Would the police threaten to arrest them for wasting their time? What would happen if they encountered flesh-eating children in a supposedly haunted house?
That’s the premise of Saturday Morning Mystery, which does something unique: after starting out as a parody, it ratchets up the scares and turns into a balls-to-the-wall horror film. Usually, particularly in this era of sequels and reboots, it’s the other way around.
In a fair world, Spencer Parsons’ movie would’ve won some awards, launched the careers of its stars and made Parsons a man to watch, but instead the movie disappeared into the ether and got lost among a million and one other titles. It’s worth singling out, especially if you’ve ever wanted to see Fred and Daphne do the nasty in a haunted house.
5. Deadheads (2011)
Brett & Drew Pierce’s debut feature contains all the slapstick, entrails and gross-out gags you’d expect from the sons of Bart Pierce, who handled special effects photography on The Evil Dead (which is seen playing at a Drive-in). A festival favourite, Deadheads picked up numerous awards on the circuit, including Best Comedy in Toronto, deservedly so as it’s funnier than most studio pictures.
Having been dead for three years, Brent (Ross Kidder) realizes he’s missed the Transformers movies, which is all that worries him about returning from the grave. But his buddy Mike (Michael McKiddy) has just found the wedding ring he was going to put on his girlfriend’s finger, which sets him wondering what his old flame might be doing now and what she might see in him now he resembles Bub’s bespectacled bro.
So begins a road trip in search of this lost love, during which our heroes are joined by Cheese, a non-speaking zombie of the traditional variety, as well as a Nam veteran who carries the ashes of his prostitute wife. If you’re tired of The Walking Dead, you need to watch this movie.
4. Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon (2006)
Behind The Mask is the movie that Scream 4 should have been: a hip, smart deconstruction of slasher movie conventions that never becomes twee or repetitive.
It’s a simple premise, and a damn cute one: psycho Leslie Vernon (Nathan Baesel) invites a documentary crew to follow him around as he chooses, stalks and kills his prey in the town of Glen Echo. Being little more than a killer shark, he of course has a “Captain Ahab”, in this case an embittered shrink named Doc Halloran (Robert Englund), whose resemblance to Donald Pleasence’s character in Halloween is purely intentional.
There are bigger-budgeted (and therefore “better”) slasher movies out there, but they don’t have an ounce of Behind The Masks’ wit and invention. Not only was the film released with zero fanfare, but it was quickly buried beneath the remakes of Halloween, Prom Night, April Fools’ Day, Friday The 13th and My Bloody Valentine. Now there’s irony for you.
3. Bad Milo (2013)
When office worker Duncan (Ken Marino) develops stomach pains, he doesn’t expect them to be caused by a demon living in his intestines, who periodically absconds to murder those causing Duncan stress at work. The only person who can help is Highsmith (Peter Stormare), a loony New Age therapist whose solution to every problem seems to lie in shouting and destroying furniture.
Lying somewhere between the films of Frank Henenlotter and Adam Green, Bad Milo isn’t exactly done in the best possible taste, but the film eschews cheap jokes and non-stop flatulence gags in order to tell a credible story – well, as credible as a movie about a butt demon named Milo can get.
There’s blood, pathos and never a dull moment as Duncan comes to realize that Milo is still connected to him – whatever anyone does to Milo, Duncan also feels. As you can imagine, this makes curtailing the little critter’s rampages a tad difficult.
2. John Dies At The End (2012)
When David Wong (Chase Williamson) sits down to talk to reporter Arnie (Paul Giamatti), he spins a whacked-out tale about body-snatching beings from other dimensions, a talking dog, phone calls from the future and a celebrity psychic who can destroy a creature made from cuts of meat by shouting at it.
Wong and his friend John Cheese (Rob Mayes) are no strangers to such phenomena, having acquired a reputation as paranormal investigators, but when John dies mysteriously and starts communicating with his friend from the afterlife, he leads David to a drug known as Soy Sauce that imbues the user with incredible powers, including an ability to transcend reality as we know it. To reveal more would be unthinkable (and bloody difficult), though there’s also a battle with a vast artificial intelligence in an alternate timeline. Obviously.
If you think that fractured synopsis makes the movie sound like a head-spinner….well, you’re right. This is as close to an actual trip as any filmmaker has yet committed to celluloid, and once it gets going, the constant flow of mind-bending invention never falters, never feels forced, phony or pretentious. If the South Park team ever remake David Lynch’s Lost Highway, it’ll look something like this.
1. Poultrygeist: Night Of The Chicken Dead (2006)
Your typical boy-meets-girl, girl-becomes-lesbian, both-battle-monsters-spawned-by-big-business satirical zombie musical, Poultrygeist may be the most tasteless movie on this list but it’s also one of the funniest.
By building an American Chicken Bunker on sacred Indian burial ground, big business has united displaced Native Americans and chickens sent to the “Concentration coup”, which can only mean one thing – the restaurant is about to be attacked by chicken zombies who like their meat red, raw and bleeding.
As they attack the diner, breast implants are ripped out, testicles are fried and eaten and an Oirish priest attempts to defeat them by brandishing a Mel Gibson DVD (“The power of the Christ compels you!”) And we haven’t even mentioned the chicken-sodomising redneck, a Muslim named Humus or Slow Fast Food Love, a music number with topless dancers.
If it wasn’t so barbed (and so funny), you could dismiss this fowl movement as juvenile and silly, accuse it of covering up its flaws by mocking its own cheapness and say its brand of slapstick is no different from the bigger-budgeted Piranha 3DD. Which is true, but how can you not like a film that clucks so much ass?
Author Bio: When not working towards his Film Studies degree, Ethan Wilson writes about the joys of watching trash cinema. Under the name “Duane Bradley”, he wrote the bizarro novellas Sick In The Head and Second Coming, published by Comet Press.